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Where To Eat and Drink in Tulum
With it’s laid back bohemian vibe and eco-chic retreats, Tulum may not be a club-goers reverie like Playa del Carmen or Cancun (thank god) but it’s certainly not lacking in the food department. Word all over the globe is it’s fast becoming a foodie force to be reckoned with and travellers are responding in droves.
Whatever happened to the Tulum of old, you ask? The off-the-grid spiritual mecca where your safest bet for a meal was a fresh-caught fish taco at the local yoga retreat? Well the tacos and shamans are still around, they’re just a little bit more… shall I say, designer. The good news is you still can’t flush your toilet paper down the toilet. The bad news is there are now such things as restaurant waiting lists. And for good reason, some internationally renowned eateries are popping up with expat chefs serving dishes like Bee Honey and Chile Habanero Sauce Lobster and other scrumptious fare with far-flung tongue-twisting names. Whether you like it or not, Tulum is growing up (and that debate is for an entirely different post). You can be for or against its swift debut into commercial adulthood but one thing’s for sure, the village is a melting pot of authentic fresh cuisine and the food movement is only going to get bigger.
If you’ve been living in an alternate reality for the past couple of years then you may not have heard all the chatter about this eatery opened by a New York couple driven to create a restaurant with experimental locally sourced food and a tiny environmental footprint. But the rest of us who haven’t been inside a culinary-bubble will be lining up waiting ever so patiently to get a table (no bookings). Yes, more often than not said line can be over two hours long, and yes sometimes you get lucky when peeps not 100% committed lose interest and try their luck elsewhere. My advice is to stick it out; you won’t regret it. The concept is pretty unique: the only source of power for the restaurant is the solar panels on the roof and the only electrical appliance used is a blender. Everything else is either mashed or thrown on the grill or in the wood-burning oven. The menu varies daily according to the produce Cheffy Eric Werner can get his hands on from local markets and producers. One word of warning: the service is a bit, well, New York.
Carretera Tulum Boca Paila 7.6Km, 77780 Tulum, QROO, Mexico
The food and cocktails at Casa Banana rank a close runner up to Hartwood, but the service and seductive jungle setting are exceptional. From the moment the alluring smell of smoky-grilled Argentine fare wafts through your nostrils you know you’re in it for the long-haul. It’s hard not to order everything on the menu but you can’t go past the tender ribeye, especially if you’re over eating a daily diet of corn-chips and guacamole. Casa Banana has one of the most extensive cocktail list in Tulum, so if you’re after a good drop with your iron-intake they’ve got you covered. One word of warning: It’s a little bit of a budget blowout..
Carretera Tulum Boca Paila Km. 8.5, Zona Hotelera, 77780 Tulum, QROO, Mexico
+52 1 984 806 2871
Mivida Restaurant is a fairly new player on the Tulum beach road foodie circuit but is fast becoming a favourite among locals and in-the-know travelers. You can spot Mivida’s tiny hole-in-the-wall roadside café by its eclectic mix of beach-chic and French provincial interiors. But those who’ve done their research know to skip this space altogether and head straight for the Mivida beach palapa out the back of the adjacent Posada Punta Piedra Hotel. With a to-die for view of the crystal-clear Caribbean, this rustic palapa decked out with old-chandeliers, hurricane lamps and dilapidated signs, really is up there with the best locations on the street. It’s setting is matched by fresh Mediterranean style tapas of ceviche, tuna tostadas or, my personal favourite, the Crunchy tortilla with tuna sashimi, cucumber, spinach, green onion and fried leek.
Carretera Tulum-Boca Paila, Km 3,5 Mexico
+52 1 984 1205266
Posada Margherita is a perfect little Italian haunt right on the beach serving up the best breakfast omelets around. Their dinner offering is also pretty special, with Chef/Owner Alessandro Carozzino using local, mostly organic ingredients to fill house-made pastas and pizzas of epic proportions. If carbs are not your thing, there are usually three dishes each day built around whatever fish was caught out front. The evenings can get a bit crowded and lively, which is all part of the atmosphere at Posada. The décor includes a modern take on Mayan artworks and the wine list exhibits a selection of classic Italian Chianti and South American wines. Word of warning: Alessandro takes pride in the daily menu creation so spare everyone the headache and don’t request any changes!
Carretera Tulum-Boca Paila Km. 4.5, Tulum, 77780 Tulum, QROO, Mexico
+52 1 984 801 8493
Cocooned by the lush jungle and ocean out front, Papaya Playa Project is part laid-back beach club, part gypsy retreat. From media executives looking to go low-key to the bohemian artists from Spain, it’s where all walks of life rub shoulders in an unpretentious atmosphere of blissed-out heaven. Papaya’s raw-luxe camp style bungalows lead the way along a winding jungle-path to the beach-club restaurant tiered on a slight incline overlooking the beach. The fare is simple and fresh (and did I mention easy on the wallet). Think fresh tacos and spicy octopus. Word of warning: Papaya Playa has been known to host Full Moon Parties from time to time, so if that’s not your bag make sure you check their Facebook page before you dine on Saturdays.
Carr. Tulum-Boca Paila km. 4.5, 77780 Tulum, Q.R., Mexico
+52 1 984 116 3774
When I stayed at La Zebra Hotel in Tulum, a crazy English lady (who I secretly thought might be artist Tracy Emin) recommended Mateo’s Mexican Grill as having the best fish tacos in Tulum. A tall order, I thought, especially considering my belly had been thriving on a daily dose of exceptional tacos procured from all over Mexico’s east coast. But who was I to question Ms Emin? So off I went to what could best be described as Tulum’s take on the typical “Sports Bar”. She was right of course, the standard fish tacos, apart from being something like 7 Australian dollars (which is cheap in Tulum), were a delicate explosion of citrus and avocado-infused deliciousness in my mouth. Be sure to check out the upper wooden deck for sunset cocktails, it has views of the coastline outstretched for miles.
Carretera Tulum Boca Paila km 5.2, Manzana 10 Lote 16, 77780 Tulum, QROO, Mexico
+52 984 114 2676
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